Torah: Jewish Origins of New Year’s

Did you ever consider the Jewish origins of New Year’s? For Jews the eighth day after the birth of a son is brit milah, the festive welcome into covenant and community. The Jewish origin of New Year’s celebration often goes unnoticed, but it is there. Although Christians differ on the date of Christmas, so that for Orthodox Christians the date is January 7th, what is shared is that the holiday marks the birth of the Messiah: Mashiach in Hebrew and Christos in Greek. The very idea of Mashiach emerges from the Hebrew prophets who preached during the period of the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. They comforted an exiled people with the Divine promise of an ingathering of Jews to the Holy Land and ultimately a world of peace and harmony “when the wolf and lamb shall lie down together” (Isaiah 11:6). When the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70CE, the enduring words of hope were given new urgency. For Jews, the test of the Messiah is in deeds: the ingathering and world peace. We still await that fulfillment and can only marvel over our national return.